In order to preserve open, free and fair elections, Governor Cuomo is proposing to close the LLC loophole, which allows wealthy individuals and corporations to use Limited Liability Companies to avoid New York’s campaign donation limits. Additionally, to provide greater transparency in campaign contributions, the Governor proposes that candidates disclose campaign contributions to the Board of Elections every 60 days, instead of the current twice yearly requirement.
The Legislature’s part-time structure allows professionals from diverse industries and backgrounds to serve the public. This offers the distinct advantage of legislators who are not career politicians but, instead, have a diverse set of interests and experiences. To strike the right balance, the Governor proposes that New York State adopt limits on outside income for legislators akin to the limits our federal government places on legislators’ outside income. The proposal will limit State legislators’ outside income to 15 percent of their base salary.
Current election laws favor wealthy donors and special interests. Simply put, there is no incentive for candidates to rely on ordinary, everyday people for campaign donations. In the 2006 elections, for example, candidates in New York relied less on small donors ($1- $250) than in all but three other states nationwide. The only comprehensive way to fix this problem and restore the voices of all New Yorkers is to adopt a voluntary public financing system for political campaigns that focuses on matching funds from small donors. To accomplish this goal, the Governor proposes a voluntary public campaign financing system.
Unlike federal law, New York allows unlimited contributions to party “housekeeping” accounts by individuals and corporations. These accounts are supposed to be used for non-campaign party activities, but they serve as a backdoor for big money to influence political races. Our current system also allows intermediaries of campaign contributors, known as “bundlers,” to pass large groupings of individual contributions to campaigns and gain political influence without disclosing their identities. The Governor proposes to fix both issues by placing a $25,000 contribution limit on housekeeping accounts and requiring bundlers’ identities to be disclosed.
The New York Freedom of Information Law governs the public’s right to access government records and provides transparency for citizens into the workings of state government. The Governor proposes a comprehensive reform of FOIL to improve transparency and promote openness in state government. But transparency cannot just be limited to the Executive, and therefore the Governor proposes that FOIL apply equally to the Legislature. Additionally, the Governor proposes that FOIL apply to both JCOPE as well as the Legislative Ethics Commission to further ensure transparency and accountability and enhance public confidence in our government.